Afternoon Financial Press Review
Paul Kettle
PM Press Round-Up -2 min read
17:04, 6th February 2019

Below are the key headlines from today’s updated papers, featuring the Financial Times, The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail & more - see the full Press section here.

Interserve’s biggest investor seeks to oust board in wake of rescue deal. Interserve (IRV) FOLLOWhas struck a rescue deal with its lenders but faces a battle to win the approval of shareholders after its biggest investor sought to clear out the struggling government contractor’s board. The company, which cleans schools, maintains prisons and builds roads, unveiled a £480m debt-for-equity swap on Wednesday under which its banks will write-off more than half its debt in return for millions of new shares. Debbie White, chief executive, said the deal was “critical to the Interserve Group’s future and all of its stakeholders”. However, existing shareholders will be left with just 2.5% of its shares.

Robot-run Ocado warehouse seriously damaged in fire. A fire that broke out at an Ocado Group (OCDO) FOLLOWwarehouse yesterday was worse than initially thought and raged through the night, leading to the collapse of part of the roof. The online grocer and technology group said that there had been substantial damage to its robotic warehouse in Andover, Hampshire. No one was injured. The news sent Ocado’s share price down nearly 7% to 965.25p in early trading. In a statement the company said: “Unfortunately the fire which started yesterday morning in a corner of the ambient grid was not contained as we believed and last night expanded. During the night part of the roof collapsed and there has been substantial damage.”

First-time buyers help boost Barratt and Redrow profits. Two of Britain’s largest housebuilders have posted booming profits as the sector continues to be buoyed by strong demand from first-time buyers and the Government’s Help to Buy Scheme. Barratt Developments (BDEV) FOLLOWmade £408m in the six months to December, up by a fifth on the same period in 2017, while smaller rival Redrow (RDW)FOLLOW posted a 5% rise to £185m for the half-year. David Thomas, chief executive of Barratt, said: “We are already the largest housebuilder in the UK by some distance but we still have ambitions to grow.” While the market for second-hand homes has slowed over the past year amid economic uncertainty, sales of new homes, especially at the more affordable end, have continued to boom.

CYBG jumps on extra savings from Virgin Money takeover. Shares in the owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks jumped on Wednesday after it revealed its £1.7bn takeover of Virgin Money has produced bigger savings than expected. CYBG (CYBG)FOLLOW, which has acquired Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money, surprised investors with a trading update that analysts said was not as gloomy as feared. The challenger bank said it now expected to generate annual savings from the takeover of £150m by the end of 2021, compared to previous estimates of £120m. Its shares rose almost 15pc on the announcement, valuing the company at close to £3bn.

The former boss of Barclays, Bob Diamond, is stepping down from his role as chairman of pan-African finance firm Atlas Mara Limited (DI) (ATMA).FOLLOW While Mr Diamond, who founded Atlas Mara six years ago, will no longer be the group’s chairman, he is staying on as a non-executive director at the firm. Atlas Mara, which invests in financial services companies across sub-Saharan Africa, is also weighing up which markets it will continue to operate in and which to leave. The company said Mr Diamond’s return as a non-executive director of the group will allow him to ‘increase his focus on his other executive roles while continuing to contribute actively to Atlas Mara’s growth and strategic direction.’ Atlas Mara share price has slumped by around 86% since the company floated in 2013.

Disclaimer & Declaration of Interest

The information, investment views and recommendations in this article are provided for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any financial product relating to any companies under discussion or to engage in or refrain from doing so or engaging in any other transaction. Any opinions or comments are made to the best of the knowledge and belief of the writer but no responsibility is accepted for actions based on such opinions or comments. Vox Markets may receive payment from companies mentioned for enhanced profiling or publication presence. The writer may or may not hold investments in the companies under discussion.

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